Crypto is for “Crooks” and “Dirty Politicians”, According to Visa Exec

One of the top executive’s at global payments processing company Visa has absolutely slammed cryptocurrency and its users. Speaking with the Financial Times, Vasant Prabhu sees Bitcoin and other digital currencies as a tool used by “every crook and dirty politician” around.

Talking Sense, or Talking Scared?

Prabhu told the publication that he’s getting asked more and more about cryptocurrency. This to him signals that the whole space is nothing more than a giant speculative bubble. The Visa executive spoke of his interactions with various retail-investors. He said they were “a real shock” to him:

“The people asking me are the ones who scare the hell out of me… You know, guys like the limo driver to the airport . . . They have no idea what they are doing.”

Evidently, these would-be crypto investors don’t really know what they’re doing. Why anyone would take investment advice from the chief financial officer of a company who has the most to lose from a successful cryptocurrency revolution  is unclear.

It kind of feels similar to asking a turkey what they think of Christmas, or a horse breeder in the 1890s if they’d heard about these “motor cars” everyone’s talking about.

Visa current operates at the centre of the global payments network. They profit greatly from the system. Meanwhile, cryptocurrency is a direct threat to the status quo of the planet’s financial services industry. We therefore shouldn’t be surprised when the likes of Prabhu spout anti-cryptocurrency sentiment at every available opportunity.

The Visa executive hadn’t finished lambasting cryptocurrency just yet though. He recounted hearing non-financial people talking about investing in Bitcoin. This to him was a telling sign of things to come:

“This is the ultimate thing that you hear about when you have a bubble, when the guy shining your shoes tells you what stock to buy.”

What Vasant Prabhu, Jamie Dimon, and the rest of their legacy payment industry chums fail to recognise is that historical paradigm shifts frequently begin with a speculative mania. Cryptocurrency seems to be following that trend perfectly too.

Such transformative technologies begin with everyone but the enlightened core claiming they’re dangerous or stupid. Like how people said the internet would only be used for child porn and other nefarious uses back in 1994. Eventually the narrative changes and the masses get excited. This leads to a speculative bubble that inevitably bursts – just like the dot-com bubble around the turn of the century.

Eventually, all the ridiculous and over-hyped projects crash to zero. This leaves the truly revolutionary ideas standing, gaining value through their utility rather than simply wild speculation. Examples like Amazon, eBay, and Facebook highlight this. We don’t need to tell you that these companies are some of the largest financial powerhouses on the planet today.

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At the request of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida has halted the activities of four individuals who allegedly promoted deceptive money-making schemes involving cryptocurrencies. These schemes falsely promised participants they could garner huge returns by using cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin or Litecoin to enroll themselves and others.

In a complaint, the FTC alleges that four defendants — Thomas Dluca, Louis Gatto, Eric Pinkston, and Scott Chandler — promoted the chain referral schemes called Bitcoin Funding Team, My7Network, and Jetcoin. Using YouTube videos, social media, and conference calls, the defendants promised big rewards for small payments of Bitcoin or Litecoin. The FTC alleges, however, that the structure of the schemes ensured that few would benefit — and that, in fact, the large majority of participants would fail to recoup their initial investments.

Bitcoin Funding Team, My7Network, and Jetcoin

Two of these schemes — Bitcoin Funding Team and My7Network — required people to use Bitcoin or Litecoin to pay for the right to recruit others into the schemes. There was no product or service to sell, people were simply told to pay in and recruit other people into the program. Supposedly, the more cryptocurrency people paid in, the more they would make. The FTC alleges that these programs were “illegal chain referral schemes.”

“This case shows that scammers always find new ways to market old schemes, which is why the FTC will remain vigilant regardless of the platform – or currency used,” said Tom Pahl, Acting Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “The schemes the defendants promoted were designed to enrich those at the top at the expense of everyone else.”

The FTC alleges that a fourth defendant, Scott Chandler, promoted Bitcoin Funding Team and another deceptive cryptocurrency scheme, Jetcoin. Similar to the other two, Jetcoin also promoted a recruitment scheme but also promised investors a fixed rate of return on their initial Bitcoin investments as a result of Bitcoin trading. In a series of promotional calls, Chandler claimed Jetcoin participants could double their investment in 50 days. In reality, the FTC complaint alleges, the scheme failed to deliver on these claims and ceased operation within two months of launching.

In its complaint, the FTC charged that the defendants violated the FTC Act’s prohibition against deceptive acts by misrepresenting the chain referral schemes as bona fide money-making opportunities and by falsely claiming that participants could earn substantial income by participating in the schemes. As requested by the FTC, the court has issued a temporary restraining order and frozen the defendants’ assets pending trial.

These types of complaints have been popping up much more frequently as of late. This year has seen the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission hitting cryptocurrency and blockchain based technology companies with subpoenas and demands for information in a widespread effort to control fundraising and weed out bad players. The CFTC has also been issuing warnings against similar crypto-related fraud schemes called pump and dumps.

Over the past few months, several countries including Iran, Venezuela, and China have either announced their plans to launch national cryptocurrencies or already conducted initial coin offerings (ICOs) to introduce a state-backed digital currency.

In late February, Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro claimed that Petro, the oil-backed cryptocurrency operated by the country’s government, raised $735 million from investors. A few weeks later, in an interview with a local mainstream media outlet Telesur, President Maduro stated that Petro generated $5 billion from 186,000 certified purchases.

Inspired by the success of Venezuela’s Petro ICO, the Iranian government, which is currently dealing with heavy international sanctions, revealed that it has begun the development of a cloud-backed cryptocurrency. Iranian Information and Communications Technology Minister MJ Azari Jahromi said that the country will “implement the country’s first cloud-based digital currency using the capacity of the country’s elite.”

However, all national cryptocurrencies including Petro and the digital currency of Iran, are not decentralized by nature unlike public blockchains and cryptocurrencies like bitcoin. Vitalik Buterin, the creator of Ethereum, previously expressed his concerns in regards to the centralization in ICOs, which are launched on top of a decentralized blockchain in Ethereum.

“I think many of these flaws arise from the fact that even though the ICOs are happening on a decentralized platform, the ICOs themselves are hardly centralized; they inherently involve many people trusting a single development team with potentially over $200 million of funding,” Buterin said in an interview with South Korean mainstream media outlet JoongAng.

Hence, even the Venezuelan Petro, which is supposedly an ERC 20 token launched on top of the Ethereum protocol, is centralized to a certain extent.

At the Genesis London conference held in the UK, bitcoin developer and applied cryptography consultant Peter Todd stated:

“Basically all currencies are digital currencies — the ultimate ledger of truth in currency systems is nearly always digital. Maybe some terrible backwards country like North Korea might be keeping it all on paper but if you go to most places in the world, it’s going to be digital records. So most places have digital currencies already. Equally, most places you can transfer money digitally. Cryptocurrency is not about being able to move money digitally, it’s about auditing. In the case of decentralised cryptocurrency, it’s about the ability to move money and audit it without permission. But when you’re talking about a government currency, obviously there’s permission, a central authority and control — end of story.”

Public blockchains or cryptocurrencies can be easily audited, primarily because transaction data and financial information are stored on a public ledger that can be accessed transparently by anyone within the network.

As such, while national digital currencies are branded as cryptocurrencies and decentralized networks, structurally and fundamentally, they do not have any significant difference with existing systems based on fiat currency.

“So the cryptocurrency part of it is about giving people better ability to audit what happened, audit what the supply is and audit what the transactions are. I think, in reality, a lot places don’t really care about that. Does even the government of Canada care about giving people the ability to audit the money supply? Probably not as much as you’d think,” Todd explained.

It’s the last chance to get a massive 58% bonus by participating in the ZeroEdge pre-ICO. Not only are they offering huge discounts to their first contributors, they’re hoping to shake up the entire online casino industry too!

Zero House Edge Means You’re More Likely to Win

ZeroEdge isn’t just a cool sounding name. They’re trying to build an online casino with literally zero house edge whatsoever. You’ve probably heard the phrase “the house always wins before”. Well, with ZeroEdge, they don’t anymore.

Traditionally, casinos make their money without the need for fees. Instead, they rig the games in their favour. It’s not exactly cheating because somewhere in the small print all the maths is all explained. It does guarantee the casino makes profits and punters lose over time though.

ZeroEdge hope to change this. Their business model is simple. When presented with a choice between a casino that takes a 1-10% edge on all games and one that has absolutely no house edge, the customer will always pick the latter.

The company plan to reward holders of their tokens by making sure that the supply of them is fixed at 686,940,000. With such high demand for fair gambling games, the value of these will naturally increase and reward the platform’s earliest contributors.

On the ZeroEdge platform will be sports betting without a commission, casino games without a house edge, and poker without the rake. With other blockchain casinos such as Edgeless getting legal recognition lately, it could be a great time to get involved with gambling ICOs!

ICO Details

As mentioned, the pre-sale of the ICO will end on 15/03/18. This only gives you a few more hours to take part. In terms of contributions, the initial funding round is already 80% complete.

The pre-sale will give contributors a massive 58% discount on final rate of the ICO. During this phase 60,040 ZERO tokens will be given for every 1 ETH sent to ZeroEdge. This will decrease to 24,000 ZERO tokens in the final phase of funding.

After the pre-sale is over, contributors will still be eligible for discounts. These will be divided into two-week blocks until the end of the sale on August 1. The discounts for each sale period will be 15%, 10%, and 5%. During final two weeks, the rate will be 24,000 tokens for every 1 ETH contributed.

If the idea of zero percent house edges appeals to you, why not head over to ZeroEdge’s website and have a look at their whitepaper. Be quick if you want to take advantage of the great pre-sale savings though.

French financial regulators have joined those in neighbouring Belgium in releasing a “blacklist” of digital currency websites. According to them, these sites have been pushing investments on the public in a way that is banned under French and European law.

French Regulators Crackdown on Illegal Financial Products

The list comprises of 15 websites. These entities are either deliberately flouting French and European law or are unaware of regulations under the Sapin II law and the MiFID.

The AMF, France’s financial markets regulator have put together the following list of those websites that they feel are illegally targeting domestic investors. According to Finance Feeds, the AMF are careful to point out that the below list is not exhaustive:







The issue is that under the Sapin II law in France, digital advertising for potentially harmful Contract For Difference (CFD) products and certain binary options is strictly forbidden. The AMF has concluded, based on their February classification of cryptocurrencies and financial products relating to them, that they do indeed fall under the remit of Sapin II law.

In addition, the French regulator also commented on a slew of online trading platforms offering various financial products where the underlying asset is cryptocurrency. These products allow exposure to cryptocurrency’s volatility without forcing investors to get to grips with actually handling digital currency themselves.

The AMF believes that cash-settled contracts such as these should be considered as derivatives. Therefore, they fall under the legal requirements of the EU’s Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID). This legislation sets various rules that these products and those offering them must comply with. Such regulations are intended to make European markets safer and more transparent following the 2008 financial crisis.

The French blacklist follows that which was published in Belgium just last month. There, the Financial Services and Markets Authority (FSMA) also named a group of websites deemed to be illegally going after potential investors in Belgium.

Whilst the French are using existing regulations to police the exploding cryptocurrency space, the EU has recently declared that they will create specific legislation themselves addressing digital currencies. Last month they stated that regulation needs to happen at the global level but that they would take on the task themselves if such a global response was not forthcoming. The EU Financial Chief, Valdis Dombrovskis said late last month:

“We do not exclude the possibility to move ahead [by regulating cryptocurrencies] at the EU level if we see, for example, risks emerging but no clear international response emerging.”

Amid the rising number of crypto-related scams that are coming about with the ever-increasing popularity of cryptocurrencies, Finance Minister Wopke Hoekstra outlined his concerns over the recent rapid boom in the popularity of the coins in a six-page letter to the Dutch House of Representatives and the Senate.

Hoekstra argued that there has been little time to understand and react to the changing landscape, and that the current supervision and regulatory framework is ill-equipped to deal with it; because of the cross-border nature of the technology and markets, closing those gaps requires a unified approach across governments and borders.

Like many other policymakers, Hoekstra sees the value in promoting and developing the technology behind cryptocurrencies — specifically blockchain technology. However, in addition to the concern over fraud and hacking, the minister also expressed concern over the immature and unregulated nature of the market and how to better inform consumers of the potential risks.


The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) has also issued a warning to the public: be wary of scammers impersonating the ATO and demanding Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies as a form of payment for fake tax debts. Officials in other countries are calling governments and citizens alike to be wary of cryptocurrencies, too. According to a statement from the agency, so far, $50,000 has been paid in Bitcoin to scammers claiming to be its representatives — and this number is sure to increase.

Kath Anderson, the Assistant Commissioner of the ATO, describes the situation as follows: “Cryptocurrency operates in a virtual world, and once the scammers receive payment, it’s virtually impossible to get it back. Scammers are constantly adapting their methods to maximize their chances of picking your pocket. Unfortunately, it was inevitable that scammers would target cryptocurrency given its current popularity and anonymity.”

In attempts to decrease the likelihood of this continuing to happen, the ATO is warning taxpayers that scammers are constantly changing their methods — now looking to increase their gains using cryptocurrencies. In 2017, the ATO received almost 80,000 reports of scams and more than $2.4 million dollars were lost to scammers that claimed to be from the agency. Another strange aspect is that almost 1/3 of victims didn’t use cash or cryptocurrencies but reportedly paid their scammers in iTunes gift cards — $900,000 worth.

The ATO reiterates in its statement that phone calls that threaten with legal procedures or calling the police, are not from the ATO office. The agency also suggests that scammers will try to steal personal and private information like home addresses, first and last names, bank account numbers and other sensitive data — information the ATO won’t be calling to ask for over the phone.

“If you receive a phone call out of the blue, threatening police or legal action if you don’t pay a debt, or the person calling you is rude and aggressive, hang up, it won’t be the ATO. Any call-back number provided should be checked via an independent internet search to ensure you are calling the ATO,” reads the statement.

According to Google’s annual “trust and safety” ads report, the company will crack down on cryptocurrency-related advertising in the coming months. This move comes after Facebook announced its decision to ban cryptocurrency-related ads in January of this year. In a blog post, the internet giant said that many companies advertising binary options, cryptocurrencies, and ICOs were “not currently operating in good faith.” 

A section on Google’s website related to advertising policies and financial services specified that the search giant’s ban would cover ads for “Cryptocurrencies and related content (including but not limited to initial coin offerings, cryptocurrency exchanges, cryptocurrency wallets, and cryptocurrency trading advice).” Other industries up for scrutiny include rolling spot forex and financial spread betting.

Google’s decision means that even companies with legitimate cryptocurrency offerings won’t be allowed to serve ads through any of the company’s ad products, which place advertising on its own sites as well as third-party websites. Google said it took down more than 3.2 billion ads in 2017 that violated its policies, which is nearly double the 1.7 billion it removed the year before.

Convincing advertisers that the company’s ecosystem is safe and effective is critically important — Google parent company Alphabet makes roughly 84% of its total revenue from advertising. This update will go into effect in June 2018, according to a company post.

“We don’t have a crystal ball to know where the future is going to go with cryptocurrencies, but we’ve seen enough consumer harm or potential for consumer harm that it’s an area that we want to approach with extreme caution,” Google’s director of sustainable ads, Scott Spencer, told CNBC.

Jack Dorsey

These moves by Google and Facebook to ban ads for cryptocurrencies and related tech may put Twitter Chief Executive Officer Jack Dorsey in the hot seat. The founder of the social network is likely to find himself under pressure to follow the two companies and crack down on misleading ads for potentially risky products and services found on his platform

That said, there’s a bit of a problem: Dorsey has reason to resist because he is not only the CEO of Twitter, but also the CEO of Square Inc., which recently began to offer Bitcoin trading — permitting more users to utilize the cryptocurrency. Square is also (like many in the financial services industry) looking at other crypto and blockchain related investments and patents. In a research post Wednesday, Nomura-Instinet analyst Dan Dolev said that 60% of Square merchants surveyed by the firm said they were willing to accept Bitcoin as a payment. 

For Dorsey, his “Twitter hat” may push him to attempt to pacify regulators and reduce crypto-hype; but Dorsey’s “Square hat” may push him more into cryptocurrency territory, because that’s where the fintech money is. It’s worth having a look: even Dorsey’s own tweets reflect a sort of double-duty, sometimes promoting Square’s Bitcoin products, and sometimes reiterating Twitter’s commitment to civility.

It’s worth noting that Facebook and Google’s ad bans have yet to be fully watertight — they can be circumvented by misspelling words, for example. But at the very least they’re a sign the companies are in some way putting their users before ad profits. Time will tell if Dorsey and Twitter follow-suit. 


Indonesia Digital Asset Exchange, or INDODAX — the largest Indonesian cryptocurrency exchange — is set to bypass the nation’s century-old stock exchange in the number of users. According to Chief Executive Officer Oscar Darmawan, INDODAX, formerly known as, will have 1.5 million members buying and selling digital currencies like Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Ripple by the end of the year.

The platform, which went live in 2014, currently has 1.14 million users. This is in contrast to Indonesia Stock Exchange, which offers stocks, futures, and exchange-traded funds and has only 1.18 million registered participants, according to data from the Indonesia Central Securities Depository.

“We are seeing almost 3,000 new members signing up everyday,” Darmawan said. “Most people are trading in Bitcoins though transactions in Ethereum has increased significantly of late.”


As of today, the platform is undergoing a rebrand, changing its name from to the Indonesia Digital Asset Exchange or INDODAX. Darmawan said that one of the reasons for relabeling the exchange was to reaffirm the company’s position as a digital asset exchange:

“Many people recognized us as a payment system using Bitcoin. In fact, we didn’t intend to have such payment system,” Darmawan said in a press conference today at the Kempinski Hotel in Jakarta.

The exchange is currently focused on the rebranding project, and Darmawan has claimed the transaction and company structure will not be affected during the process, assuring the exchange’s users that they will not experience significant negative impacts: “We guarantee our members won’t be affected because we’re conducting the rebranding process smoothly,” he said.

That said, Oscar was reluctant to detail the process(es) involved with INDODAX legal structure during the rebranding. “We’ll release our official statement after it’s all done. The process is underway now,” he concluded.

Bank Indonesia

Earlier this year, Bank Indonesia took a firm stance against cryptocurrencies. The bank announced that it does not deem digital currencies legal tender, and urged all parties to refrain from owning, selling, or trading in them. The move highlighted the challenges currently faced by regulators across the globe as they seek to manage the potential risks associated with cryptocurrencies, but often don’t have the means to out-right ban their use. 

“Owning virtual currencies is very risky and inherently speculative,” the central bank said in the January statement. Saying, “digital tokens are prone to forming asset bubbles and tend to be used as method for money laundering and terrorism funding, so it has the potential to affect financial-system stability and harm the public.”

With INDODAX set to overtake Indonesia’s stock exchange in users, it’s not clear whether many of the country’s citizens have heeded to Bank Indonesia’s warnings. 

Today, under Chairman Rep. Bill Huizenga of Michigan, the Subcommittee on Capital Markets, Securities, & Investment held a hearing (watch it here on Youtube) entitled “Examining the Cryptocurrencies and ICO Markets.” The primary focus of the hearing was to further facilitate dialogue between crypto-industry insiders and lawmakers.

Hearing: Subcommittee on Capital Markets, Securities, & Investment

After an introduction by Chairman Huizenga, the four panellists — academic and industry insiders — read their opening remarks. The rest of the hearing saw these panellists yield questions from the subcommittee members. Members of the panel were as follows: Mike Lempres, Chief Legal and Risk Officer at Coinbase, Dr. Chris Brummer, Professor of Law at Georgetown University Law Center, Robert Rosenblum of Wilson, Sonsini, Goodrich, & Rosati, and Peter Van Valkenburgh, Director of Research at Coin Center.

The main question at hand regarding regulation in the U.S. is who’s going to do it — the SEC or CFTC — and which laws apply. Despite speaking for over two hours, the answer to this question is still not completely clear. But that said, this was the first hearing of its kind and there are to more come: Chairman Huizenga closed the day by declaring optimistically that it was more of “a hello than a goodbye.” 

The majority of the topics discussed revolved around the regulatory parameters in place in the U.S. today, and what those need to look like moving forward to accommodate the crypto space. In discussing this issue more broadly, topics such as how to deal with ICOs, the problems surrounding state and federal agency overlap, and wallet and asset security were touched on too.

Differing Viewpoints

Despite a wide array of perspectives  — with one subcommittee member going as far as calling cryptocurrencies a “crock” and inferring that crypto-enthusiasts were just unemployed men in their pajamas sitting on couches — when the dust settled, many members seemed to have similar ideas in mind: striking a balance between oversight and the accommodation of technological innovation.

Rep. Maloney, a ranking Democrat on the subcommittee from New York, announced that she is working on a cryptocurrency oversight bill that would cover exchanges that offer trading services for digital assets. And Chairman Huizenga also announced his intention to pursue some kind of legislative action, saying: “This panel, this Congress is not going to sit by idly with a lack of protection for investors.”

The issue of exactly how to balance regulation was contended. One particular standout was Minnesota’s Rep. Tom Emmer, who said, “I find myself maybe not with my colleagues on some of this.” He went on to say: “I hear elected officials who don’t have any concept of what we’re doing here … talking about ‘we have to go in and regulate.’”

“I realize there has to be some regulation, but it’s the balance,” Emmer remarked. “And I’ve heard from the panel we have regulation in place but we just need clarity.”

Emmer’s views were closely aligned with a lot of what the panellists were expressing — arguing that more clarity is needed around the regulations in place today versus the imposition of new rules on the industry. His sentiments were mirrored by Rep. Ted Budd of North Carolina, who argued that oversight in this area is something that the U.S. “has to get right.”

“Regulation in this space is something that the U.S. has to get right. Because poor or rushed policy in cryptocurrencies really threatens our reputation in finance and technology.”

The cryptocurrency industry continues to fight an uphill battle on all fronts. Facebook officially banned ICO advertisements earlier this year. Google is now doing the same, but they are removing any advertisements related to cryptocurrency in general. This is a rather worrisome development that may hurt cryptocurrency’s chances of success in the long run.

A Rather Harsh Action by Google

The new decision by Google comes at a rather interesting time. In June of 2018, cryptocurrency-related advertisements will no longer be allowed on the platform. That is quite worrisome, as it virtually nullifies any promotion attempts related to Bitcoin and altcoins. It seems Google mainly wants to weed out ICOs, trading advice, and so forth.

Even legitimate companies will no longer be able to serve ads through Google. That is not a positive development by any stretch of the imagination. A lot of smaller cryptocurrency companies will struggle because of this missed opportunity. With Facebook also cracking down on cryptocurrencies, it has become evident these centralized technology giants will try to oppose this new form of money.

Whether or not other companies will follow this example, remains to be seen. Cryptocurrency interest is at an all-time high as we speak. Despite falling prices, the general public still wants information regarding Bitcoin and altcoins. If Google can’t help them out, people will flock to other solutions in this regard. This decision also highlights the need for decentralized ad networks.

What Comes Next for Cryptocurrency Advertising?

It is evident Google faces a lot of advertisements violating its policies. At the same time, targeting the cryptocurrency industry doesn’t appear to be the right course of action either. Removing reported ads is a system that simply works well. At the same time, advertising is the main source of revenue for Google parent company Alphabet. Removing anything potentially “dangerous” or “malicious” from their ecosystem makes a lot of sense.

For cryptocurrency companies, the news will be a big blow. At the same time, every closed door means another opportunity will come around. How this will affect the industry, remains to be determined. This advertising industry may remain off-limits until we see actual cryptocurrency regulation. Even then, companies such as Google may keep their foot down and not allow any ads related to this new form of money.

This news comes at a time during which Google Ventures invests in Currencycloud. This company is a global payments platform built on smart technology mainly focused on cross-border payments. It is rather uncanny how Alphabet cracks down on cryptocurrency advertisements, yet still invests in companies exploring this business model.